Success story

Having just matched in to general surgery this week, I thought I’d drop by this forum and provide some more living proof that it can be done.
I always wanted to go to medical school. During undergrad, I did lots of extra things, including getting my EMT and volunteering for an ambulance. One thing I didn’t do was study enough, with disaterous results in the GPA area. I after a couple years, I got serious, tranferred to another school and graduated with a respectable GPA. I then thought it would be a good idea to take a year or two off to work. Then I got married, my husband joined the army, and my genetic liver disease started to act up again. 5 years later, I was divorced and decided to look into med school. I even took the MCAT and filled out the AMCAS application, but found my overall GPA was not quite a 3.0. I knew I wouldn’t get into med school with that.
I then learned of a nurse practitioner program that didn’t require getting an RN first (there are a few). I thought that would be good, since it would prove that I could handle clinical work, and would also be plan B in case I never got into med school. I was accepted to that program, and plunged in. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was indeed a second choice, but I forged ahead. While in the middle of the program my liver quit working altogher, and I got very sick very fast. I was listed for transplant and a mont later, got a new liver. It took me several months to get back to the point where I could return to school, and I basically haven’t slowed down since. I finished the NP program and wen to work at a very rural hospital, thinking that they qualified for a loan repayment program. They did’t. AFter 2 years on the job, I finally applied to med school, but was rejected. It was suggested I take extra upper level undergrad classes if I wanted to reapply. I took a job in a research lab, worked as NP on weekends, took extra classes and retook the MCAT and reapplied the next cycle. That time I was accepted.
So in 1999, at age 38, I started med school. I was thinking emergency medicine at the time, with surgery a close second. I got a job at our trauma center as a suture tech (a job designed for med students). It didn’t take me long hanging around the surgery residents for me to realize that I truly have a surgeon’s personality, and I also realized that when I think of emergency medicine, I’m really thinking of trauma. I scrubbed my first case as M1, a trauma case, and I was hooked. I loved my surgery clerkship and took several surgery electives, including one where I went and did liver transplants with the surgeons who did mine… very cool.
I have generally been treated very well, and rarely does anyone make any issue of my age or my health status. One attending here told me that she doen’t think I can handle surgery, saying that she’s only a few years older than me and it’s getting harder for her and “I’m really healthy and you aren’t”. She lectured me saying I wouldn’t be able to be sick ever during a surgery residency, and that I’d have to come in no matter how sick I get, whether I’m vomiting or have a temp of 103 or whatever. After that, I decided not to mention any of the liver stuff in my application, as it’s not relvant to my desire to do surgery. But later I learned that one of my LOR writers put it in the letter. I applied to a total of 28 surgery programs, got offers for interviews at 18 and went to 14.
So, at age 41, with a birthday yet to go before I start residency, and with it being known that I’m 8 years out from liver transplant, this past thursday I opened and envelope to learn I’m going to the University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital (Rochester NY) in June to start my general surgery residency. I’m very excited…I grew up in that area, though I haven’t lived there for some 20+ years.
So, I have one more very laid back rotation to do for med school, I graduate in May and I’ll acutally be an intern in June.
It took a lot of hard work and a lot of persistence to get where I am today. And I think that just about anyone could have the same success story, if you are willing to do the same. I think the persistence is actually the hardest part. But if the desire is strong enough, the persistence will come.

Wonderful…good luck in the year ahead.
It's always funny that no matter how far one forges ahead there will always be someone that wants to be a rainy picnic. I hope that I have your determination in the years ahead.

You are an Awesome Inspiration to us all!
Never surrender, Never Give In! wink.gif

Hi there,
It will be nice to have another young surgeon posting on the forum. I am going to be 51 on the 25th of May and will enter my second year of General Surgery residency. Not only have I being doing well, I am outpacing my younger colleagues. This job is more about work ethic and less about age or physical ability. Now I will admit that I do have lots of energy but I totally love every aspect of my work. It really doesn’t seem like work at all. I can spend 16-hours in the OR and come back for more. It is just that much fun.
Welcome to the group and good luck with your PGY-1 year. Mine is rapidly coming to a close and I look forward to the challenges of next year.
Natalie cool.gif

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It was quite inspirational!
Congratulations and best wishes on your upcoming surgical residency. biggrin.gif

Way to go! Thank you so much for sharing your story! It gives all of us hope and reminds me that I need to keep going for my dream.
Best wishes in all you do! smile.gif

Go! Go! Go!
Thanks for sharing. You are truly an inspiration!

Wow! and Congratulations!!! I hope you truly enjoy your residency. smile.gif

Super, super story. I think the best lesson here is that, no matter your past mistakes or omissions, it can be overcome with diligence and hard work.
Welcome to the surgical community.

Thanks for posting. What an inspiring story. Congratulations!

Ditto all the aforementioned praises! I'm currently thinking about doing the same thing but getting a PA instead of NP. What do you think about that? Also, can you tell me about NP programs that don't require RN's. Thanks so much.

it is truly ENCOURAGING to be surrounded by so many people who hard-working and persistent!!
gschimma, i did my nursing degree at CWRU in Cleveland, OH. they have NP programs that you can enter without having an immediate RN. tongue.gif

Your story is an inspiration to read! I have heard stories about past bad grades, etc from several OldPreMeds (including our founder, OldManDave) and passed them on to skeptical profs and others, only to have them dismissed as “anecdotal”. That may be, but your story, like the others, is real, and gives the rest of us hope. Thanks,